The City of Espoo has made it to the top six in the European Capital of Innovation (iCapital) Awards contest organised by the European Commission. Previously, the most successful Finnish cities have only made it to the top ten. As one of the six finalists, Espoo will be rewarded with EUR 100,000 to promote local innovation activities.
Cities from sixteen countries applied to enter the European Capital of Innovation contest. By the time the number of candidates had been narrowed down to 12, Espoo was the only Finnish and Nordic city remaining. In addition to Espoo, the top six includes Antwerp (Belgium), Bristol (United Kingdom), Glasgow (United Kingdom), Nantes (France) and Rotterdam (Netherlands).
In line for a prize of EUR 1 million, the winning city will be revealed on 25 September 2019 at the European Research and Innovation Days in Brussels.
“This is already a victory! We have been praised for the fact that the Espoo Story is an innovation in itself. We are making unique and comprehensive development efforts as a City as a Service, co-creating in line with the Make with Espoo mindset. This means that we are developing services innovatively in cooperation with our community of Espoo-based residents, companies and research institutions,” says Mayor Jukka Mäkelä.
The City as a Service model is an innovative response to the ever-growing need for increasingly diverse services. Espoo’s goal is to form a network with its partners to provide services in a way that benefits from digitalisation and existing capabilities such as premises, equipment and expertise. Citizen involvement in service design is the key. Furthermore, Espoo is opening up data to enable anyone and everyone to contribute to the development of service technology.
Three cornerstones of development
A team of experts from the City of Espoo (Mayor Jukka Mäkelä, Services Development Director Päivi Sutinen, Project Manager Veera Vihula and Manager of Economic and Business Development Harri Paananen) travelled to Brussels last week to pitch Espoo’s assets to the jury.
Espoo’s pitch was built on three cornerstones all beginning with the letter C: Community, Collaboration and Co-creation.
“The contest will be won by the city that does the best job in demonstrating the ways it uses innovation to enhance the everyday life of its residents. This is exactly what Espoo’s mindset is about: customer-oriented service development in cooperation with companies, research institutions, organisations and residents. Involvement and making everyday life easier for our residents are the cornerstones of the Espoo Story, too,” Mäkelä says.
Some of the concrete examples of Espoo’s innovation efforts that the team presented in Brussels include the Espoo Story; the City as a Service model; the city library as a builder of community spirit; Business Espoo, a service centre for businesses; Cleantech Garden, a piloting platform for solutions that promote circular and bioeconomy; the Make with Espoo co-creation model; and Hack with Espoo, an upper secondary school course on ethical hacking.